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dc.contributor.authorPoata-Smith, E. S. Te Ahuen_NZ
dc.identifier.citationPoata-Smith, E. S. (2002). The political economy of Māori protest politics, 1968-1995 : a Marxist analysis of the roots of Māori oppression and the politics of resistance (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThis thesis provides a Marxist analysis of the political economy of contemporary Māori protest politics in the years from 1968 to 1995. It is argued that Māori protest politics embraces a range of competing political ideologies, which are informed by different assumptions about the causes of Māori inequality in wider society, and in turn, different sets of strategies for ameliorating and transcending that inequality. Overall, the thesis has two central concerns: firstly, it identifies the critical economic, political and ideological conditions and context that have allowed particular competing political ideologies and strategies to dominate contemporary Māori protest politics. This involves a particular focus on understanding and explaining the rise of identity politics and cultural nationalism as the dominant political strategy within Māori protest politics. This involves a particular focus on understanding and explaining the rise of identity politics and cultural nationalism as the dominant political strategy within Māori protest politics. Secondly, the thesis critically assesses the effectiveness of contemporary Māori struggles against racism and oppression on the basis of whether they involve, or are likely to contribute towards, the transformation of the generative structures that give rise to manifest inequalities between Māori and non-Māori. It is argued that the systematic alienation of land and the inequality that exists between Māori and non-Māori are not simply the result of the underlying cultural values of individual non-Māori but are rather the result of the historical process of capitalist development in Aotearoa and the economic, political and ideological requirements necessary for the generalised commodification of indigenous labour-power. The thesis explores how the politics and practice of Māori protest has been shaped and influenced to a large extent by the underlying social, economic, political and ideological forces of global capitalism. It is argued that the international collapse of the long boom, the global upturn in class struggle and the emergence of the New Left internationally from the late 1960s had an enormous influence on the political direction of Māori protest in the New Zealand context. The success of the working class offensive and the growing political influence of rank and file Māori workers ensured that Māori protest groups formed part of the progressive social movements of the time. Indeed, although some were explicitly nationalist in their orientation, these movements were consciously part of the Left. The balance of political forces within the Māori protest movement changed considerably during the late 1970s and early 1980s with the rise of the New Right as a political force internationally together with the rise of employer militancy, the defeat and demoralization of the working class movement internationally, the decline of the social movements and the absence of mass struggle. This had important implications for the influence of the various ideological factions that co-existed uneasily in the Māori political milieu from the early 1970s onwards. The downturn in militant mass struggle saw the rise in the influence of identity politics as cultural nationalist strategies came to dominate Māori protest politics, representing a fundamental retreat from Left-wing ideas. In practice this entailed a rejection of the class politics and mass struggle that had informed the politics and strategies of Māori protest groups from the late 1960s, and its replacement with a politics of cross-class alliances and a personal rejection of 'Pakeha society'. In practice this was a recipe for passivity and divisiveness within the Māori protest movement itself. The politics of cultural nationalism left Māori ill-equipped to resist the ruling class counter-offensive and the anti-working class policies that successive governments introduced to restore the conditions for profitable capital accumulation. In particular, the rejection of a class analysis of Māori inequality in capitalist society has undermined the capacity of working class Māori to resist the neo-liberal agenda and a Treaty of Waitangi settlement process that has resulted in a substantial shift in resources to those sections of Māori society already wealthy and powerful. Although the settlement process represented an important concession by the state, it has never compensated for the anti-working class policies of governments since 1984, which have widened the social and economic inequalities in New Zealand society. In this way, the emphasis on cultural identity alone as the determining factor in Māori oppression has been counter-productive for working class Māori as successive governments shifted the costs of the economic crisis on to the weakest sections of the community. As New Zealand entered a new period of economic and social crisis in the 1990s, the commercial interests of Māori tribal executives, Māori corporate enterprises, and the Māori bureaucracy were clearly at odds with the material interests of the vast majority of working class Māori families. This fundamental conflict in class interests was to set the scene for a revival of militancy on scale not seen since the 1970s.en_NZ
dc.publisherUniversity of Otagoen_NZ
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dc.subjectgovernment relationsen_NZ
dc.subjecttino rangatiratangaen_NZ
dc.subjectsocial classesen_NZ
dc.subjectrace relationsen_NZ
dc.titleThe political economy of Māori protest politics, 1968-1995 : a Marxist analysis of the roots of Māori oppression and the politics of resistanceen_NZ
dc.typeThesisen_NZ of Political Studiesen_NZ of Philosophyen_NZ of Otagoen_NZ Thesesen_NZ
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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